Dutch universities under fire for evading labour laws with lecturer contracts

In what seems to be an effort to circumvent the Work and Security Act, Dutch universities are appointing lecturers with a combination of a small permanent contract and flexible contracts, the Volkskrant reported on Thursday after conversations with universities and representative councils.

The universities give their lecturers a permanent contract, but only for one day of class per week, for example. The rest of their working hours are made up out of flexible contracts. This is happening at the University of Amsterdam, the Vrije Universiteit, the Radboud University Nijmegen and the universities of Tilburg and Leiden, according to the newspaper.

This type of mixed contracts goes against the Work and Security Act, with which Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher is trying to reduce the number of flexible contracts and give people more job security. It also goes against the lecturers collective bargaining agreement, in which the universities agreed to halve the number of temporary contracts.

According to the newspaper, experts and trade unions are doubtful about whether it is legal to pile flexible contracts on top of a small permanent one. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment stated that the same rules apply here as with all other temporary contracts - after two successive temporary contracts, or after two years of temporary work, the employee gets a permanent contract.